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Thankful November
After our trip to London, November was still pretty insanely busy and actually rather stressful. Chris was still gone for most of the month and work at the bakery never slows down.

 

First off, we had the Varatun Christmas market to prepare for. We had a booth with cake supplies and hosted a gingerbread decorating station for the kids. While we were in the process of mixing, cutting, and baking over 800 gingerbread cookies, every baker’s worst fear came true: our oven stopped working. We had to scramble and take all the cookie dough over to Katrine’s house to bake them. As you can imagine, late nights ensued in order to have them ready in time for the market.

 

Luckily, we had already purchased our big new industrial oven and were in the process of having it installed while we were in the UK the week before, but it still wasn’t completely hooked up and in working order yet. THANKFULLY because of the Christmas market we hadn’t taken any cake orders so while inconvenient, it wasn’t as big of a disaster as it could have been.

 

Also…I got up in the middle of the night to pee (as pregnant women are wont to do) and stumbled over my suitcase in the dark, ripping off my big toenail again (it was already pretty janky due to a ballroom dancing accident my freshman year of college). I couldn’t wear closed toe shoes for three days due to the swelling! What a start to the month!

 

My poor toe!
The cake shop completely torn to bits while our oven was being installed (and yes…those are Halloween decorations still up…) + A special delivery from Chris since he couldn’t be there in person to help me through my rough week. I seriously married the most amazing man :)
Varatun Christmas Market
We finally got our brand new-to-us deck oven up and running! This was the first test-bake and from then on out our lives have changed for the better. We went from only being able to bake 12 cupcakes at once to being able to bake 120. No more 14-hour baking days for moi! I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing that is after almost 4 years of baking in a tiny normal home oven.
Skittles being Skittles and hanging out on the baby bump.
Chris came back from Naples and that same weekend our church ward had a fun Thanksgiving activity up at some cabins at the Sirdal ski resort up in the mountains the weekend before Thanksgiving. We all got together and cooked 10 turkeys, huge vats of sweet potatoes, and numerous pies and had ourselves a classic American Thanksgiving dinner. The picture above is the only picture I have from the trip. It started to snow pretty heavily on the way back down to Stavanger and unfortunately since Chris had been gone for so long we still hadn’t put the winter tires on our car. It was a little shaky, but we made it home in one piece.


The next weekend on the official holiday Chris and I had ourselves a little mini Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us (by official holiday I mean the Saturday of the official weekend. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Norway Chris and I don’t get it off of work so we haven’t had Thanksgiving dinner on actual Thanksgiving day since we moved to Norway.) This year, on my continuing quest to make the perfect turkey, I whittled it down to the bare bones to start at the basics. I got rid of all the homemade fancy roasted garlic rub and all that nonsense from years past and purely rubbed it all over with butter and stuffed the cavity with lemons, onions, and herbs. It turned out to be the closest to the turkeys on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens I’ve made yet! I still need to work a little bit on the evenness of the browning and now I’m going to start to play with flavor a little since it was a little bland with only butter, but it was perfectly moist and that’s ultimately what matters! Next year just might be the year!

Chris and I sure had a lot to be grateful for this year!

Cruise: Kusadasi, Turkey

I’m slowly catching up! I’m half-tempted to just post all the photos from Turkey and make you guys guess where they were taken and what was happening. But I guess I’ll be nice tonight and at least tell a story or two :)

Kusadasi was awesome. In fact, Turkey made it’s way onto the list of places we definitely want to come back to along with Israel. That’s the great thing about cruising I decided. You can use it as a sampler of sorts. You only get a day or two in each port, but it’s enough to weed out the places you don’t care to see again and to wet your appetite for places you discover you definitely want to explore in depth. Turkey wasn’t even on our radar before this trip. In our minds it was just an incidental stop on the cruise that took us primarily to Egypt, Israel and Greece. But by the end of our day there we loved it!

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Sunrise over Kusadasi Port

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What made a HUGE difference for us in Turkey was the fact that this time, instead of booking our tour through the cruise ship, we booked a private tour with Ekol Travel. Kolie found them after we couldn’t find a cruise tour that had what we wanted for an itinerary. The private tour for the four of us cost only slightly more than an excursion run through the cruise line and we had our own bus with our own tour guide. We could basically tailor the tour to our wants all along the way. It was fantastic! Plus, our tour guide knew the answers to every historical and cultural question we could throw at him, which we had a lot of! If you go to Turkey and need a guide, I would highly recommend these guys!

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Outside the House of the Virgin Mary, where Mary supposedly lived out the rest of her life after John brought her to Ephesus after Christ’s death.

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Prayers written on scraps of paper and tied to the fence outside Mary’s house.

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The main event of our Turkish excursion was a tour through Ephesus. If I had had doubts about picking time travel as my super power before, they vanished as we explored Ephesus. It is only ruins now, but you can tell it was a fantastically GORGEOUS port city in it’s hey day. I mean… the streets were all paved with glittering white marble!! Pompeii was cool and all, but Ephesus was beautiful!

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Evil Ephesian kitty.

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The library.

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After Ephesus, our tour included a private garden lunch of traditional Turkish foods. (Did I mention this tour was awesome?) I wish I kept a better record of what we ate, because it was delicious!

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We got a lesson in silk production and were taken to a workshop where they still hand-weave traditional Turkish rugs.

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We were taught all about the production of these rugs from start to finish, as well as the different materials used and different patterns created. In a world of factory-produced knock offs, I couldn’t believe the beauty of these handmade versions! (I’ve used that word a lot this post. Beautiful. It pretty much sums up Turkey in a nutshell!)

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Trying not to step on these works of art, even though our host kept insisting, “Go ahead! They are rugs and are meant to be walked all over!”

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Someone seriously wove this BY HAND out of silk made from those silk worm pods earlier in the post! Absolutely mind blowing.

After our tour of the rug workshop, our guide said goodbye and dropped us off outside a Turkish bath at our request. That was on Kolie’s list of must-dos in Turkey so we gave it a shot. Let me tell you… it was an experience and not for the modest or faint of heart! I won’t go into details now (I might give it its own post one of these days) but I can say I don’t think I’ve ever been so scrubbed squeaky clean in my entire life! Definitely one of the many highlights of our time in Turkey.

And now, I will leave you with a Turkish “Evil Eye.” It hangs over almost every doorway we saw in Turkey to ward off bad luck. I hope it brings you as much good luck as it did to us this trip!

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NEXT STOP: Athens!

 

Thanksgiving x 4

Here at the house of C², we love Thanksgiving. Particularly the Chris half of the double C. This year, Chris was in turkey and pie heaven because we “accidentally” ended up with 4 Thanksgiving dinners in a row!

The first Thanksgiving we planned was our own. We had to put out orders in for Butterball turkeys from the NATO base by the end of September… so naturally we went ahead and got one, despite not having plans. And Chris, who adores turkey and leftover turkey sandwiches, was the one who placed the order. So naturally we ended up with a 16lb turkey for the two of us (which we discovered later is the MAX size that will fit in our little oven!).

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Fast forward a few weeks, and we get an invite from our dear friends, Bethany and Joe, to have Thanksgiving dinner at their house with a bunch of NATO friends on Thanksgiving day. Of course we weren’t going to pass up Thanksgiving with friends, so we decided to cook and eat our turkey (and more Thanksgiving fixin’s) on Friday instead. And since our turkey was 16lbs (!) we invited the missionaries to join us.

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On Saturday, we had planned to make Chinese food at Anna and Mike’s house, but then on Friday Anna calls us to tell us her turkey didn’t defrost in time for Thursday, so we switched Chinese food to another Thanksgiving feast. 

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THEN we find out that some of the Americans from our church are planning a Thanksgiving potluck on Sunday, and really… who would say “no” to that?

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So there you have it. 4 Thanksgivings in a row. We were happy, slightly heavier, lycopene junkies who definitely had a lot to be grateful for this year!

And let’s not forget one of the best parts of Thanksgiving:

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The BIG vat of turkey stock you get from all the leftovers! Mmmm….

 

We are so grateful for all of you and we love you very much!

We hope all of your Thanksgiving dreams came true :)

Cruisin’ Gangnam Style

Consider this a little preview of lots more posts to come :)

Highlights from the trip/video (us, Josh and Kolie, or both):

Relaxing on board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.

Egypt: the pyramids and sphinx, riding jeeps and camels, the Valley of the Kings

Israel: The Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Ashdod

Turkey: Ephesus and Kusadasi

Greece: The Acropolis and downtown Athens

Italy:  Pompeii, Naples, Sorrento, Capri

Pictures coming soon (as soon as we finish editing them all!)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

It’s Sunday, and a bit past the time of Thanksgiving for most of you, but we celebrated our Thanksgiving yesterday instead of Thursday so it’s still pretty fresh for us :) Chris doesn’t get American holidays off of work, so we opted to do Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday instead of trying to fit it in on Thursday after work. It was a good thing we did too because I ended up getting 5 last minute cake orders so I was up to my neck in frosting on actual Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving was definitely a different experience for both of us this year. For one thing, we BARELY managed to squeeze 13 lbs of turkey into our tiny European oven! We did it though and luckily it still turned out! It was also a little sad not being home for Thanksgiving this year. We definitely missed the family gatherings and all the fun that goes with them and we discovered that it is A LOT of work to prepare Thanksgiving dinner with just 2 people cooking! We had lots of fun doing it together though, and to compensate for the lack of family we had a bunch of friends over instead :) It was a mix of Americans, Norwegians, and a Dane and it was fun to be able to share our traditions with our Norwegian friends since they’ve been sharing so many of theirs with us!

 

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Skittles helping pick out Thanksgiving treats.

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The Pie

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The Feast

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The Food

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The Friends

It was an adventure coming up an entire Thanksgiving menu all on our own for the first time! We came up with lots of ideas…and had way too much food. But leftovers are half the fun of Thanksgiving right? I tried to use as many local ingredients as I could from the farmers market downtown and for the most part I was pretty successful!

Here was the lineup this year:

Garlic-Rosemary Turkey with Mushroom Gravy

– The. Best. Turkey. Chris (a turkey fiend) has requested that we never ever use another turkey recipe. It was delicious! Definitely make sure to brine it if your turkey doesn’t already come pre-brined. It makes for a super moist, fall-apart turkey!

Chive & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Rutabaga with Caramelized Onions and Apples

Butternut Squash Crumble

Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Casserole 

 – You can NEVER go wrong with Paula!

Maple and Rosemary Glazed Carrots

Stuffing from Food Network Magazine.

-I wish I had a link to a recipe, but it was a “Mix & Match” feature in the magazine. We used wheat bread, leeks, onions, celery, bacon. Comment or email me if you want a more specific recipe, because it was yummy!

Josh’s Mom’s Pineapple Bread – Gluten-free version brought by Josh

Plain ol’ normal salad

Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!